marketing & design

Monotones & Designing to be Modern vs. Designing to be Dated

BY Brian James Rawson, EMILY DOWD, ELANA GAINES /
February 24, 2022
Photo of Brian James Rawson, founder of Owl Street Studio Photo of Brian James Rawson, founder of Owl Street Studio

In this episode of Conversations on Marketing and Design, Brian, Emily, and Elana talk about today’s design trend of monotone color palettes. They also discuss the push/pull on designers between trendy and timeless, and they discuss how to design to today’s trends without accidentally designing yourself into a dated, aesthetic time capsule.

Emily Dowd and Elana Gaines are the founders of Afternoon Creative. To learn more about Afternoon Creative, visit their website here:

Afternoon Creative

And to learn more about us visit our about page here:

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Click the video above to watch this episode of Conversations on Marketing and Design.  

Also, you can read the episode transcript below.


Episode Transcript

Emily: Okay, this is actually something I wanted to touch on...

Why We Love Monotone Colors

Emily: I think it's a little bit trendy right now, but I'm personally a very big fan of the monotone color palette.

I think this is a really interesting example because I actually think a lot of the other websites that I would think of that are monotone use a little bit of a gradient, where as here I'm seeing kind of this one green and white, pretty much.

I mean they're using imagery to switch it up a little bit and add in that texture. But very interesting use.


Elana: Yeah, I love monotone. You know, I think it brings an interesting question about accessibility because not everyone can see all of the different shades, or, you know, of a color as easily as someone else.

But, you know, personally, I think it looks beautiful to see different shades of the same, you know, what people call the same color, side by side; and I think you can get a pretty dramatic effect when you do that.

Because if you think about you know, the world around you, I'm looking at a wall you know, it's, it's white, but really what I see, I see some shadows and I see some warmer parts and some cooler parts and like the world is not a single blue.

And so if you have sort of that monotone of those in different gradients or colorblocked gradients, I don't know, it feels, it feels natural to me - not necessarily like natural like organic but natural as though you're in the real world.


Montones and Trendy vs. Timeless

Brian: Do you think when colors are too trendy, do you think you can accidentally design yourself into a time capsule? Where like, you know, 15 years from now looking back will monotones have the same feeling? Or would it feel like, “Ugh, there's some 1970s designs” or whatever, pick whatever design period you don't like.


Elana: I think no matter what you're designing for the current trends, even if you're, even if you're like, “I'm not doing that,” you are; and you sort of can't really avoid it because, you know, there's new technology in how websites are designed and what you know what computers are capable of showing.

And so, you know, it's like we look at the screen and we think it's not pixelated and like our pictures quality is really good. And then we look at the same video in five years and we’re like, “That was horrible. What were we thinking?” or like your internet speed and things like that.

So I don't really…yes, I think you can design yourself into a hole, but I don't really think there's any way of avoiding that.


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